Wearing Clothes vs Wearing an Outfit

I am spending this month talking about style because I’ve been doing the #moms30for30. Underneath this, I’m spending this month trying to encourage you fellow moms who are reluctant to dress with more style to step out of your comfort zone.

After my second, Lenayah, was born I felt stagnant. I felt consumed by motherhood and could feel passion oozing out of me at a rapid rate. As I spent countless hours nursing and rocking my daughter I relied on my phone to make those wee midnight hours pass. I started to read lots of blogs and pinning all of the things.  I started to feel inspired by what I was reading. At a really hard time for me in every way, it was a simple passion I could find interest and beauty in.

Despite all this inspiration, I felt like I couldn’t execute.  I would see a look I love, go buy the clothes and then they would just sit there. I could put them on, but I didn’t know how to ‘wear’ them. I felt like a fraud for trying, so I just wouldn’t. Then I was left with a closet full of money I spent, clothes I didn’t wear and really just resented getting dressed altogether.

Then I realized, I just have to try. It feels stupid to say out loud, but I needed to practice dressing myself. It felt indulgent, and shallow at first. But as I learned that I could take the time to practice, it would become a habit and get easier and faster.

It wasn’t just about clothes, of course. I felt a bit more powerful when things felt out of control. I felt a bit more beautiful when my eyes were puffy and my life was messy. I felt like when I would take care of myself for ten minutes each morning and then I could take better care of those around me.

I started to pay attention to blogs on fashion and makeup. It was out of character for me, but it seemed like the only controllable thing I could do at that point. It was something simple I could try in my own bedroom. I started to pay attention to what they were doing, how they were doing it. I was ready to say, ‘I want to dress how I want to look’  and that’s not like the mom from the Swiffer commercial.

We can buy all the cute clothes and we have a fashionable closet. But style is how we, individually, chose to put it all together. In my laywoman’s recovering-sandal-and-sock wearing opinion:

clothes = fashion

outfits = style

So here are my tips for putting outfits together:

1. Start with what you love. Make sure your closet has been purged, only keep items that you love and that fit you well.

2. Use accessories. (When I say accessories I mean scarves, jewelery, headbands, belts, bags, glassses, hats, rogue oatmeal stain on your leg). You don’t need a lot of accessories or shoes, but you do need a couple. These are what help complete an outfit and what help an outfit look like ‘you’. As fluffy as it sounds, you have a unique style that says something about who you are and how you hold yourself. Even if people make fun of your yellow cardigan. You love it, you wear it!

3.  Always add layers. Dressing in basics is just that, the base. Like a plain waffle without any toppings. You need butter, syrup, berries, hemp hearts, yogurt, on that bad boy! Use the ‘Rule of Three‘ and wear at least three items. Your top and bottom count as two. This was one of the first steps I took in getting dressed each day, adding a bit more. 

4. Trial and error. There is no handbook to your body and your tastes. You have to take the time getting to know your clothes, your style. You have to spend time trying on different outfit combinations As moms, this time-commitment is our biggest hurdle. It doesn’t have to be an hour every morning. Maybe once a week lock yourself in your room with some great music and a glass of wine and just try some combos on.

5. Take pictures. I’ve said this before that you need that external feedback from not-a-mirror. I usually only take pictures when I do a #moms30for30 or when I’m dressing for something special and it always helps me see what looks off and what looks good.

6. Do it anyways. I still feel silly leaving the house some days. I mean, I like what I’m wearing but I don’t feel confident I can pull it off. I’m afraid people will think certain things of me if I show up ‘too much‘ and that’s something I’ve been working through my life in many hidden ways. I can look at another woman and think she has something I don’t because she can walk confidently and look good. The difference isn’t necessarily that she feels confident, the difference is that she just does it.

Like anything you practice, this will become faster and easier. I hope you start wearing the clothes sitting idle in your closet. I hope you’ll find yourself feeling more confident to wear more than a shirt and pants. Maybe you will add on other things you like that make a look ‘you’. After all, you’re getting dressed anyway, you might as well like the results.

Here is one of the top blogs that began this whole process for me: Putting Me Together

Check out more from the Simple Style for the Reluctant Mom series


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